Southwest Airlines changes policy for fatties

There was nothing in the news, and no press release, but it appears that Southwest Airlines has changed its policy for people who take up more than one airplane seat. You can still purchase an extra seat, and SWA prefers that you do that (of course), but you don’t have to.  From their policy: “Customers of size who prefer not to purchase an additional seat in advance have the option of purchasing just one seat and then discussing their seating needs with the Customer Service Agent at their departure gate. If it is determined that a second (or third) seat is needed, they will be accommodated with a complimentary additional seat(s).”

You can read the full policy here: https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/extra-seat/index-pol.html

I haven’t flown SWA in years, mostly because of how they have treated fatties and other out-of-the-ordinary passengers. So while this seems to be a victory, it’s uncertain how it will play out. Those of you who plan to fly SWA, please leave a comment after your trip and let us know how you were treated.

(Thanks to Sondra Solovay, Marilyn Wann, Heather Boyle Nymeyer, and others for spreading the word on facebook!)

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7 thoughts on “Southwest Airlines changes policy for fatties

  1. I guess this counts as progress, but it’s still not a real solution to the problem. The seats on airplanes are too damn small! If your body doesn’t fit in a 17″ seat, overflowing into the next seat is going to be uncomfortable at best, and painful at worst.

    What the airlines need to do is offer wider seats. I’d happily pay a 50% premium for 50% more space. What I won’t do is pay a 500% premium.

    I think the first airline to implement this would attract both large and small customers. Obviously us fatties will enjoy the extra room, but the skinnies will enjoy knowing that they won’t get stuck next to somebody overflowing into their space.

    • Thanks for your comment, John. That’s a very sensible idea. The airlines need to get over the hurdles of implementing it, and then figuring out how to market it. Once they do, if they do, it’ll be a win-win all around.

    • My *shoulders* are 19″ across, nevermind my hips or stomach. And that’s only measuring the bony parts. I whole-heartedly support the call for wider seats!

  2. I flew Southwest last week. They did not mention anything about my size. I needed a seatbelt extender on one flight but not the other (different types of planes), and when I requested it I was accommodated quickly and professionally, no questions asked. It was just like flying on any other airline.

  3. Whoa. This represents a major shift for them. I wrote a polite protest letter years ago about their policies and got back the snottiest letter. Said volumes about their attitudes, and as a result, I have never given them my business since, despite flying fairly frequently.

    Can this policy shift truly be trusted? I wonder. The bias was so deeply entrenched that I’m not sure I would trust in such a significant corporate cultural change.

    • Thanks for the comment. I share your concerns. Thinking about how SWA treated film director Kevin Smith (and the woman who sat next to Kev when he finally got to fly), the issue seemed to be more than just policy.

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